Monday, 29 June 2015

A Catch Up

 You may have noticed that my blog has been a little garden-focused this year.  This was pointed out to me by a friend who said "Another garden post?" in a voice which implied it would be nice to have something else instead.  So, I thought I would do that today.  Above is a memory wire bracelet I made as a commission, but I think I will have to make one for myself too.  I used lapis lazuli, sodalite, rainbow moonstone, pearls, and blue fire agate.  I have also made myself a pair of rather baggy long shorts to wear around the house and in the garden (not to go out in!), but haven't got a photo to show you.
In other news, I have been experimenting with Flitterglu (Flake and Glitter glue, in case you are wondering), which can be put onto a stamp, then stamped onto baked polymer clay, then gilding flakes applied onto the glue, then wiped off, to leave a pattern.  The glue is a bit like PVA, but stays tacky, so it doesn't matter if you need to go and do something else as you can come back to it.  It can also be used on lots of other materials such as wood or card, and can be used on fabric, although if gilding flakes are used, the fabric can't then be washed.
I particularly liked the writing, which has worked very well.  A lot of detail can be picked up by the gilding flakes, which creates some lovely patterns.
Apologies for the flash glare in this picture - but it does show the gilding flakes well.  
 This was an experiment on a white background, which I didn't think worked as well as the darker colours.
I'm doing reasonably well with my reading challenge (to read all the books in the photo above before I buy any more books).  The reading has gone well, but the 'not buying any more books' has not lasted!
I haven't yet read The Last Pre-Raphaelite, but have read and really enjoyed the other books shown here. The Lost Pre-Raphaelite began as delving into the history of the author's recently bought house, but developed into a mystery about the life and family of a painter who lived there and it was an engrossing hypothesis.  
The Beverley Nichols trilogy was a joy and delight - houses, cats and gardens, with various odd acquaintances putting in an appearance throughout.
 I have also read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which was unsettling but an incredible first novel and a cleverly created parallel world.  I have also enjoyed the BBC adaptation of the book, despite some small divergences from the story, but I shall definitely read the book again.
 I am currently on 'Colour: Travels through the Paintbox' which is fascinating.  For instance, did you know that the colour 'Mummy Brown' actually contained ground up Mummies?  No, nor did I until I read this book!  I had been putting it off because I thought it looked a little hard going, but, in fact, it is easy to read, well written and really interesting.  I wish I could remember a few more of the fascinating facts the author reveals...
I have also been very busy with a 'Christmas in July' swap (three handmade Christmas things from a list), which is also a Secret Santa, where the recipient does not know who is making gifts for them.  I shall be posting my parcel this week and on the 25th July, or thereabouts, we will all be opening our presents, so I shall share my makes and what I received then. It is exciting to think that somewhere in the world, someone is busy making gifts for me too!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

More Open Gardens 2015

It was Open Gardens at my mum's village last Sunday, so we went along to support them.  We had lovely sunny weather in which to enjoy walking round the village.  These first three photos show the amazing clematis at one of the gardens (it was my favourite, partly because it was very romantic and exuberant, with lots of roses and clematis).  
 The clematis plants were so healthy and full of flowers.  The owner said that she didn't feed them and hadn't done anything to them except prune annually.
 They must be exceptionally happy in her garden.
 Another garden had a border full of delphiniums,  I always admire these plants, but can't grow them in my garden, due to the slug and snail population.
 This was the verge opposite one of the houses, full of wildflowers.
Chris and I both enjoyed the wooded area in this garden.  It was a rented house and the current occupier told us he would love to buy it.  The main part of the garden led out onto a meadow and then to this wooded area, with wild roses dotted amongst the trees.
 It was a magical place.  I loved the way the shadows were cast by the trees in these photographs.
As a contrast to the informality, this garden displayed the owner's care, attention, hard work and love of formality with an impressive vegetable plot.  He was growing an enormous number of peas - obviously his family really enjoy them!  On the other side of the garden, to the right of the photograph, there was a flower garden too, which again was extremely well tended and cared for.
It really struck me how much the gardens reflected their owners - I wonder what my garden says about me?!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

British Flower Week 2015

Photo from http://www.britishflowersweek.com/blog/
Just in case you weren't aware, this week is British Flowers Week, which is a 'week long celebration of British flowers and the UK cut flower industry'.  The dress above was made by Zita Elze, using larkspur.  not very practical, but absolutely stunning! Wouldn't it look lovely printed on chiffon? Of course, I do have some flowers in my own garden which I feel should be celebrated (although usually, I don't need a special week!), so without further ado, may I introduce...
Rose Frilly Cuff, new to me this year and planted in a pot.  The colour is a bit deeper than this in real life and it has a delicate fragrance.  I wanted to add some deeper colours of roses to my garden, as all the others seem to be pale pink, apart from one yellow.  This one has a beautiful colour and form.
Nigella or Love in a Mist.  I have always loved these flowers and remember them growing in every garden from my childhood.  I sowed seeds in the border, but the plants decided they would rather sow themselves in pots, which is what they did.  They are so lovely, I left them to grow where they wanted.
I have some nice shades of blues and whites in the Nigella.
My favourite rose, Gertrude Jekyll, with the most delicious fragrance.
A new rose again this year, Bright as a Button, a floribunda type, which has a very open flower and is again in a pot.  
The star of the week just has to be Oriental Poppy 'Checkers' which I grew from seed and which features annually on my blog.  I was concerned that the flowers would be totally battered by the heavy rain we had at the weekend, so dashed out to take a photo last Friday, just in case they were reduced to a soggy mass.
The flowers start off a very pale pink and then whiten as they age.  I'm pleased to say that they have survived the rain and are still looking lovely today.
There are more roses to come, with several new ones too and I shall also post a photo of the white peony if its buds open.
I hope British Flowers Week is a great success!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Open Gardens 2015

 There were some gardens open near Lincoln Cathedral last Sunday, so we made the most of the beautiful weather and went to explore. I was taken with one garden's view of the Cathedral and totally forgot to take any photos of the garden itself.
When this view is across the road, is it any wonder that I was distracted?
 The first garden also had a lovely view across to the Cathedral close.
 At the next garden, I must admit to feeling a little envious of this view across the city.
 One garden had made the most of every space there was and we were very impressed with the array of fruit grown in tubs and boxes, including raspberries, gooseberries, currants and cherries to name but a few.
 There were little corners of lovely planting and this red rose caught my eye.
 This garden (which was my favourite) had an Italian feel, enhanced by the statues dotted around the garden. Everywhere you looked, there was something else to see.  Both of us really liked the pet graveyard area in a quiet and secluded part of the garden.  There were gravestones to pets from Victorian times and the current owner had continued the tradition.  It was very moving.
We spoke to the owner who said his wife wasn't always keen to see more bits and pieces appear in the garden, but we replied that this gave the garden its character.  It was a quirky and beautiful space and I am so pleased that we had the opportunity to see it. I really enjoy looking at other people's gardens and always come away with ideas.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Great Excitement! (In my world, anyway...)

 I almost feel as though this post should be preceded by a drum roll!  However, in the absence of sound effects, I would like to announce that my peony Athens is flowering!  It is absolutely beautiful and I am delighted.  I know that this isn't world shattering news and in the great scheme of things, it means very little, but to me at this moment, it is wonderful.
 Isn't it beautiful?
 In other news, my clematis Warsaw Nike is flowering for the first time with velvety purple petals.
 Clematis Crystal Fountain is also putting on a good show.
 Alliums are still in flower too...
 and allium Christophii is just unfurling.
 It has lovely silvery lilac flowers.
Cirsium rivulare atropurpureum is also coming into flower, echoing the peony which is behind it on the border in a pot.  The cirsium may be a short lived perennial but this is its second year with me and it is doing well since I potted it on.
And finally...another look at the peony earlier tonight, just starting to go over a little.
There is another bud getting ready though.  I do need to get these peonies potted into bigger pots as they are drying out very quickly, which can't be good for them.  I have promised myself some gardening time on Sunday and in the meantime, I'll water them daily.
After all that excitement, I may need to go and lie down...

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Colour

I have been enjoying colour in different forms over the last few days.  Above can be seen some coloured quartz beads which I couldn't resist sorting.  (I'm the same with coloured pencils - I have a tin of Caran D'Ache watercolour pencils which my Dad bought me many years ago and I have to sort them periodically!  Oh, and there's embroidery thread which has to be wrapped round a plastic card and then colour sorted too).
 The garden is starting to show its early summer colour with pastel lilacs and purples.  Clematis Crystal Fountain above has fully opened...
...and Clematis Arabella is just starting to flower.
This is the very exciting news - well, it is exciting if you are like me.  You may remember me saying I had bought two patio peonies and they are now just about to flower!  Above is 'Madrid', which initially looked as though it was going to have a pink flower and that bothered me a bit as I thought it wasn't the right variety, but was tricking me, because I can see the white petals peeping through in the bud.
 Here is peony 'Athens' which is tantalisingly close to opening fully.  I go out to look at it every morning, and each time it is a tiny bit further on, but still not quite there.
Look, you can almost see the golden centre.  Another day or two and it should be open.  It is a good lesson in being patient.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

My Star plants

It's a bit of an in-between time in the garden, in late May.  The roses are in bud and lots of other plants are getting ready, but the tulips are over and the Spring flowers are fading.  So, what is there to look at in my garden?
 Magnolia Fairy Blush in its second year with me and looking very pretty.
 An aquilegia my sister gave me - I don't know what the variety is, but I like the delicate pink and white flowers.
 The stalwarts of the May border - alliums.
 Another aquilegia bought last year and not planted out or potted on yet - shame on me!  I wonder whether it would seed with the white one and make a pale blue variety?
 Erigeron karvinskianus which has pretty white and pink flowers.

Reliable Geranium Phaeum, or mourning widow, to give its common name. I think this might be Lily Lovell, but am not sure.
 Geranium Phaeum Album - a lovely plant.
 Clematis Crystal Fountain just unfurling.
 More deep purple Geranium Phaeum.
Finally, another geranium, versicolor, I think, but I could be wrong.  I love the veining on the petals. This one seeds all over the place and is trying to take over, but can be removed easily. I let it stay where I want it to be, but take it out if it gets too unruly!  So, a few plants to enjoy and keep me going while I wait for the roses, peonies and clematis to flower.